Early Retirement Journey Fall 2018 Updates and Reports

11 Months of Income and Expenses in 2018

Well, if you knew me in real life, you would know sometimes I get really excited and can’t contain it. Some might call this anxiousness. Potato, potahto. Anyway, I’ve been perusing my income and expenses and I just can’t wait the two weeks for December to end to have a more complete picture of my income and expenses for the year.

I’ve also been sick for a week with little else to do other than blink and breathe, and I  want to knock out some of these updates before my scheduled vacation days next week. So I’m cheating a little bit.

Thus, I bring you a sneak peek at my income and expenses for 2018! Check out how the single girl did, and tell me your thoughts. Remember this is only eleven months of expenses and income (Jan to Nov), but with only two weeks of the year left, I don’t expect much to change unless my body or my car dies. God forbid.


Here’s a screenshot from Google Sheets of my income for 11.5 months. My first of two December paychecks is included just to keep it confusing.

My Paycheck is from my full-time call center job. Paycheck is sans 401k contributions and after tax.  As you can see it varies because we get paid from the 1st to the 15th and then the 16th to the 31st. So sometimes, that’s a lot of hours, sometimes it’s just 80 hours. Bonus is annually based on secret metrics. Refunds are for things I return to the store after I buy them and realize I didn’t actually need to buy that. Thank you generous return policies. Side hustle is my foray into the side hustling so common in the personal finance (PF) blogosphere. Let me tell you, I didn’t love it.

As you can see, I started out doing Roth 401k contributions, then after immersing myself in the PF blogosphere I went with traditional 401k contributions. The conventional wisdom is to go with traditional if you think your tax rate will be lower in retirement anyway. 

YTD Total Income (incl 401k contributions): $72,848


Here’s a screenshot from my spreadsheet. As I got through the narrative, I realized a couple expenses were left off and were subsequently updated. So some totals may differ from the screenshot. That’s what happens when you have a human doing a robot’s job. 

I love it too when bloggers include blurry images…

A close-up of totals, YTD, Jan to Nov 2018.

Aunty MERJ$5,251

YTD Total Expenses = $70, 485

YTD Total Expenses – Savings = $31,198

The Breakdown

Aunty MERJ: $5,251

Expenses for Aunty MERJ I count toward my tithe. I don’t belong to a particular church, but I still tithe in terms of trying to give away 10% of my spending budget. For 2018, my spending budget was estimated to be $30,000, so 10% of that would be $3,000. I went a bit over with Aunty MERJ as her health rapidly declined and took her mood with it.

These expenses included visits to Florida and paying Aunty MERJ’s rent while I got a handle on her finances

Debt: $6,835

My whopping $300,000 student loan debt. I sacrilegiously have chosen not to pay off this debt. I know, I know. I am on income-based repayment for the next 25 years. 

Entertainment: $320

This was one fitness class ($88), tickets to the state fair ($14), and three months of cable ($43/mon).  Yes, I know. I still have cable. Last year I was spending $90/mon on cable though, so this is an improvement. My hack was using the DirecTV Now app vs regular Time Warner cable through a cord. DirecTV Now app is loaded on the Roku stick so you can still watch TV on the big screen vs a laptop. And I still get the same channels. A good binge watch + yummy snacks = favorite single girl pastime.

Everyday: $2,795

These expenses include Groceries, Restaurants, and Personal Supplies.  On average, I seem to spend about $250/mon in this category as a whole. That’s pretty good considering I budgeted $200/mon just on Groceries alone.  For an itemized breakdown, in the last 11 months, I spent $1,281 on Groceries for one single girl, and  $868 on Restaurants.  Monthly, that’s an average of about $117/mon on Groceries and about $79/mon on Restaurants. Not bad! 

Gifts/Tithe: $106

I gave some money to my other aunt who helped me out during my surgery.  My little cousins were going to prom and wanted to buy prom tickets. 

Health/ Medical: $2,037

This category was a stunner this year. I had leftover dental work from 2017 that needed to be completed. I also had surgery. This is with health insurance. But, I thank God anyway. This year was a year of ailments from the root canal, to the surgery, to back and tailbone pain to recurring respiratory distress. As I type this I am hacking my life away with acute bronchitis – a single girl first. I don’t know what’s going on. Is this what 35 has in store for me? 

Home: $11,175

No real surprises here. My rent went up but overall with utilities I stay around $1,000/mon to house myself. As an aside, there is a new mattress ($708) factored into this total as well. Continuing, I have considered home ownership but I can’t afford anything where I currently live and I’m not ready to give up my pretty easy commute. I know- another blasphemous proposition for the single girl. Plus, if I’m honest, the numbers didn’t work for me without a long term plan to stay in the area. It would take five to seven years to break even and that’s with moving 1 hour away. 

Savings/Investing: $39,287 (really about $36,287)

This is my first year actively investing, and by actively I mean fully contributing to my employer’s 401k plan and opening my first brokerage account. After much deliberation, I decided to go traditional on the 401k. No real rhyme or reason in the end. The first blogger I read did it, so I did it too. Plus it keeps my adjusted gross income down for my income based student loan repayment.  My savings goal for the year was $37,000 and I’m just about there. Thank the Lord!  The $3,000 difference is because some of that was money I earned in 2017 that was hanging out in my checking and savings while I got comfortable with this whole financial independence thing. So far, so meh. More on that later…

Technology: $280

This is a few false starts with the blog mainly. Most of this was refunded just not captured in the way I charted my expenses for this category. 

Transportation: $1,308

This was the category I was most looking forward to. I didn’t have a clear picture of what it costs to own a car each year after monthly payments are done. Now I have some idea. I drive a 2007 Honda that I bought new, and I’m curious to see how long I will be able to drive it. It has close to 150,000 miles and still runs fine.  When it’s time for my next car, it will be nice to have some accounting of the true cost of owning a car.

This category captured: fuel, insurance, license/registration, and maintenance. On average, this year I spent about $42/mon in gas or $459 over the last eleven months. That’s a little high attributable to more fill-ups the four months I was side-hustling. In fact during four non-hustling months, I spent less than $25/mon on gas! I spent $708 on car insurance this year, and a whopping $142 for registration and inspection. I still have some outstanding maintenance, but only time will tell if I get to it in the next two weeks. 

Travel: $520

Ahoy! Single girl, you didn’t go anywhere?! Yes, that’s right. This is the cost of my staycations for the year. Wait, what? Yes, well in May I spent $50 in gas to go to Maryland to see my cousins graduate. In August, I had some serious back pain and spent a weekend in a hotel and called it a writer’s retreat. And in September, I bought some delicious food and holed up in my apartment for the week. It was berry niiiice

Utilities: $424

This is my eleven month total for power.  Water and internet is paid to my apartment complex with my rent check. Which averages about $38/mon but I carry a credit on that account because I prepay. 

Other: $148

This is mostly the cost to renew my professional license. Work pays for continuing education courses, of which we have to have 15 hours or so. Then at the end of the year we certify we took those courses and didn’t do anything bad, then we get a new license and carry on with our lives. It’s a nice life. 

That’s pretty much it. I enjoyed this conversation a lot more than my updates with graphs. They’re pretty, but boring. Stay tuned for the Q4 financial update with pictures and the remainder of December 2018 expenses and income. 

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  1. Thanks for sharing. It’s always a good thing to track your expenses and save as much as possible while paying off debt.

    1. Thanks, Andy! Do you ever sleep? 🙂

  2. I sleep but keep putting more time into my blog as it grows.

  3. I think you do a great job of keeping expenses down. The only thing that jumps out for me is the apparent lack of an emergency fund. Do you have one?

    1. Thanks, SMS. Great point about the EF… check out my last S/I update Savings and Investment Update

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